24.01.2012 Individual ways

Youngsters out and about, family unit breaking up

I have not written about the noises and calls of the ducklings yet.

They are not noisy at all. They beep a little when they are very young. When they are older,

their call is a very low-volume "grrrr grrrr". This gets a bit louder as they grow up but you will

not hear the "quak quak" of common ducks.

Today I have heard new calls from the parents. They made a very long "zeeeeeek" or "zoooooook"

when they spotted an alien on the water. All ducklings lined up along the river bank and watched

the danger pass. It was a kayaker!

The family unit seems to be breaking up now. When I arrived, one duckling was waddling alone

on the bank opposite Peterborough Street. Near the other end of Park Terrace, close to the

Bealey/Deans Ave bridge, the mother duck lingered around with three female ducklings. When I

started feeding them, some more that had been nearby in the water arrived. After feeding and the

traditional digestion swim, the mother disappeared after swimming and came flying in with some

more ducklings who had been hanging out somewhere else.

I counted ten ducklings. But as the young are now out and about this does not mean that

number eleven has been killed.

The heads of the females are whitening up.

But the change compared to last week is not huge.

The males are wandering further away.

The chestnut colour of the females' breasts is getting beautiful.

Smallie still has a way to go.

Father duck needs a rest, too.

Mother duck (on the right) seems to know where her young are. Father duck (centre) is still a great caretaker.

The males now are significantly larger than the females.

Feeding was quite funny today. As you know, a few ducklings and the mother are taking food from

my hand. But today the two cheeky ones - a male and a female - got even funnier.

While I was crouching and tearing up the bread slices into digestible pieces and feeding them

directly into Mum's beak or throwing them onto the grass for the others, those two ducklings

were sneaking around me and pulling and biting from the bigger slices in my left hand.

The first kind of territorial behaviour is starting to show. The ducklings run after sparrows

that try to get some bread. No-one was harmed, it looked rather cute.